Canaan Kennedy: Where did you grow up what was your family situation like?
Sarah Anderson: I grew up in London – I was the eldest child of four – two younger sisters and a younger brother. It was a very happy and privileged childhood.
CK: What is the biggest obstacle you have had to deal with in your life?
SA: When I was 10 years old – I was diagnosed with cancer - a synovial sarcoma in my left elbow. This led to the amputation of my left arm. My way of coping with this was to pretend that it hadn’t happened – and my family always treated me as if there was no difference.
CK: Did you experience any difficulties throughout your life?
SA: Because this happened in the 1950s – there were several things I was told I couldn’t do. I refused to listen – and always felt I could do everything. For example one Christmas I applied to work in a shop – I was turned down as I was told I wouldn’t be able to put things into bags. This made me very upset – but also determined. Later I was told I couldn’t learn to deep sea dive. Again as well as being furious I was upset. And I managed to find someone to teach me.
CK: Can you explain how you overcame that adversity to achieve your dreams?
SA: I think my family was instrumental in helping me feel that I could do anything I wanted – by treating me as they always had done and as if nothing was different.
CK: Is there any advice that you would give to young people concerning how to overcome difficult situations?
SA: Self-belief is very important – and never think of yourself as a victim.
CK: Was there a moment in your life that drastically changed who you are today?
SA: I could never talk about having one arm – that is until I went to America when I was 22. The Americans I met asked me what had happened to my arm – and it was a great relief to be able to finally talk about it.
CK: What achievement are you most proud of?
SA: I started the Travel Bookshop in 1981 – (the one that featured in the film Notting Hill) – I am very proud of that achievement.
I first met Lady Sarah Anderson when I visited London, England in the summer of 2015. Sarah invited me to the Barbican Theatre to attend a production of To Kill a Mockingbird. It was ironic, I was seeing an American play in London - no matter, the production was fantastic.
Sarah had a warmth about her and a genuine kindness She is an author, painter and founder of the Travel BookShop in London. Her title of "Lady" comes from being the niece of the Earl of Perth. A year later I asked Sarah if she would be interested in sharing her story with me. She agreed and below are the my questions and her answers.
Sarah is also a published author - you can purchase her book Halfway to Venus by clicking on the picture above
Halfway to Venus is about Sarah Anderson’s life with one arm. It is also about other people who have lost their arms, about phantom and prosthetic limbs, about what hands and arms mean in different cultures and how they are portrayed in art and literature. Life with one arm is different in many subtle ways and this deeply personal book demonstrates why and how this is. Sarah Anderson examines peoples’ reactions, from the casual to the more highly charged; she looks at the effect, both erotic and otherwise, of having only one arm on sexual and romantic encounters, describing both poignantly and entertainingly what she has learnt. Among many other experiences, she visits Lourdes and, going from the sublime to the ridiculous, she takes part in a One Armed Dove Hunt in Texas. - Umbrella Books